Video

Brüder

This video is a scripted collage of randomized fragments of video (converted from super 8 film) and phrases from the poem as subtitles. This is a screen grab of 4 minutes, but the script runs continuous.

The music you are hearing is the anthem of
the European Union and also of
Europe in a wider sense.
The melody comes from the Ninth Symphony
composed in 1823 by Ludwig Van Beethoven.

For the final movement of this symphony,
Beethoven set to music the “Ode to Joy”
(Alle Menschen werden Brüder)
a poem written in 1785 by the
German poet Friedrich Schiller

This poem expresses Schiller’s idealistic
vision of the human race becoming brothers
– a vision Beethoven shared.

In 1972, the Council of Europe
adopted Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”
theme as its own anthem.

In 1985, “Ode to Joy” was adopted
by EU heads of State and government
as the official anthem of the European Union.

Without words,
in the universal language of music,
this anthem expresses the ideals of freedom,
peace and solidarity for which Europe stands.

It is not intended to replace the
national anthems of the Member States
but rather to celebrate the values they share
and their unity in diversity.

When reuniting the words of Schillers
poem with the instrumental anthem,
the ‘values, unity and diversity’ that we are
proposed to celebrate seem kind of sinister.

The text of “Ode to Joy” pictures a
patriarchal culture in which
monotheistic victory is cheered
by crusading men drinking wine and
swearing oaths to an almighty god.

The anthem of the EU seems to relate more to
Lord of the Rings, the Matrix and Harry Potter,
than to the social political complexity,
the cultural and ethnic diversity of
Europe in the 21st century.

An anthem that can only really be sung by
diplomats crowding the European Quarters in Brussels
such as seen in these film images that were shot
on a sunny Thursday afternoon in 2006.